The Phi Ta Khon Festival (ผีตาโขน) is an old festival and is called the 'The Ghost Festival' that takes place in the Northwestern Province of Loei and the community of Dansai - about 450 Kilometres from Bangkok - we travelled there by Nok Air.
This festival is part of a larger festival called the Bu Luang festival - including the Bu Phra Wet (Festival of the 4th Lunar month) and Bun Bang Fai (Festival of the 6th Lunar month) but more commonly known as the Bamboo Rocket Festival. BUT I was not there for this one.
The first day consisted of a procession from the Phon Chai Temple to the river where there is a procession and sacrificial rite is performed? and then the procession returns with a symbol of Phra Up Ka Khut. Who is a monk with supernatural powers who has chosen to become a white marble and live a peaceful but solitary existence.
But there is also the story of the Prince Wetsanthon (Vessantara in Pali), the Buddha’s penultimate reincarnation.
It is on the second day that the local people dress themselves as Phi Ta Khon Figures and perform masked dances around the village.
The groups simply take turns to dance and show off their decorative costumes to the people lining the street.
I chose to visit Wat Pon Chai where there is also the museum of Phi Ta Khon - wonderful and interesting.
These groups dance and shake phallic symbols at you and take even greater delight in pointing them at giggling young women - not sure why but it was fun! The phallic symbols represent the fertility of the lands and of the coming time of rains...
Many of the groups have cow bells ('mak-ka-lang') attached to their waists and take more delight in shaking their bottoms at each other.
There were also sponsored groups of decorated people - AIS and a local bank both embraced this festival.
As the day grew on many of the younger groups of children sat on the benches set aside and watched the procession of the older people - who seemed to be enjoying it more and more.
It was at this time that we needed to find somewhere to stay - we could not - until Chuen (my wife) found a camping site with a spare tent!
The next morning we woke up early and drove into Dansai Town. It was here that we saw the more traditional procession trucks and the Thai ladies dressed in Traditional Thai dress.
At this point there were a far greater number of people watching the procession.
These people covered in mud actually resemble the mud fertility of the growing rice in the paddy fields around the town.
Then there were these larger creatures with very large phallic symbols resemble - Giant Phi Ta Kohn. I chose not to take a photograph of the float of a bull and the cow copulating though.
Then there were the two strange creatures carrying larger tins behind them resemble?
Followed by this happy figure?
Lots of fun was had by everyone.
Information from Richard Barrow
Information from Tour with Thai
Information from http://www.phitakhon.com/history.html
Information from the Government
Information from TTR Weekly
Information from http://www.sjonhauser.nl/phi-ta-khon.html
Information from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phi_Ta_Khon